Minnesota Twins: Grading the Chris Archer Signing and his Rotation Fit

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Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer throws during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers. (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer throws during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers. (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /
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The Minnesota Twins added another starting pitcher to their rotation, and while it wasn’t the ace that Twins fans were looking for, it’s a former 2-Time All-Star:

As with all of the Minnesota Twins’ moves, we’re grading this signing. The Twins need starting pitching, and the two free agent moves they’ve made in that area were signing Dylan Bundy and now Archer.

The Minnesota Twins made what seems to be their final free agent signing, starting pitcher Chris Archer.

This begs the question though. Why Chris Archer? Archer has struggled with injuries and inefficiency since 2019, including missing all of 2020 following surgery to fix thoracic outlet syndrome. He’s hardly the ace-level starter he once was, and the Twins need a frontline guy, not the current version of him.

There are definitely some positives. In 2021, Archer only pitched 19.1 innings, posting a 4.66 ERA (4.26 FIP) and a very solid 9.8 K/9 rate. His 21-8 K-BB ratio was solid, but he’s not the pitcher he once was. The team can’t believe that Archer is going to suddenly bounce back to his pre-injury levels.

This is an upside play, similar to Dylan Bundy. The Twins are spending a combined $9.25 million ($7.5 million in salary, $1.75 in 2022 buyout money) to see if both of them can bounce-back to the their career bests. These are great deals if the team is rebuilding, but after signing Carlos Correa, this isn’t the way to go.

For Twins fans, these deals are eerily familiar to last year’s signings of J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker. Deals that were supposed to be holdovers until the top prospects arrived. We all remember how those deals went though, and it seems the team is making a similar mistake.

Grading this deal for the Minnesota Twins

The team needs a top-flight starter to sit atop the rotation. Gray is a legitimate No. 2 starter, Joe Ryan has the upside of a No. 3 arm, Bailey Ober is a strong Number 4. Dylan Bundy seemed like a capable fifth starter until Josh Winder was ready or Kenta Maeda returned. They just needed one more top-shelf arm. They instead signed Chris Archer.

I could be wrong. Archer and Bundy could be stellar, and Winder and Jordan Balazovic could join the rotation in 2023 instead. But I don’t think I am wrong. Archer and/or Bundy will likely disappoint, Ober and/or Ryan will have some rookie struggles.

The team’s lineup and bullpen is good enough to carry this team to 80-85 wins, even if the back of the rotation crumbles again. Regardless of that, this deal isn’t a great move for a contender, earning their grade.

Grade: D.

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